Privacy

Common Sense Kids Action Joins 55 Organizations to Oppose CA AB-165

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Common Sense Kids Action, an advocacy platform of the nonprofit Common Sense Media, has joined a coalition of more than 55 civil rights, immigration, education, youth, health, labor and LGBTQ organizations to oppose the passage of California Assembly Bill 165.

The bill would provide an exclusion to the existing California Electronic Communications Privacy Act (CalECPA), allowing a local educational agency, or any individual acting on behalf of a local educational agency, to search an electronic device or online account of a student, parent, teacher or school staff member without complying with CalECPA rules.

AB-165 is expected to be heard before the state Assembly’s Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection Tuesday, April 18.

If enacted, the results could mean:

  • E-mails, text messages, social media communications, photos and more could be viewed and investigated without oversight. Sensitive personal or family information and communications stored on phones and other digital devices would no longer be protected by CalECPA.
  • Students and parents might never be notified about these searches.
  • Any information found during a search could be used or shared with law enforcement and federal agencies such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the larger Department of Homeland Security and others.

More than 6 million children who attend California’s public schools, plus their parents, could be affected. Teachers and school staff members could have their electronic devices and online accounts searched as well.

While assembly members who support the bill say the information could be helpful to school authorities who are investigating incidents of cyberbullying, others, such as ACLU attorney Chris Conley, say there are other ways to mitigate bullying in the schools and seizing electronic devices may not be an effective strategy.

Common Sense Kids Action is encouraging California residents to contact their legislators and voice their opposition to AB-165 on this site. Common Sense Kids Action says it may share personal information with affiliates, legislators and like-minded coalitions.

A summary of the bill can be found on this California legislature site. The entire text of the bill can be found here.

To read a high school journalist’s perspective on the bill and its implications, visit el Estoque, the website and newspaper of Monta Vista High School in Cupertino, CA.

About the Author

Richard Chang is associate editor of THE Journal. He can be reached at rchang@1105media.com.

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